Family reunions are fun for me. I’ve heard the horror stories and seen the dread in people’s eyes as they talk about seeing extended family. Tales of family drama ruin many a family reunion. But it’s not that way for me. Once every three years, the Porter family gathers in the summertime to reconnect and celebrate our family. We have grown to around 80 in number now, though we miss out on someone’s company for various reasons each time.

I remember the days when I was a kid running around with my cousins pretending to be cowboys and indians, or conquering river rapids or hiking trails, or even the time we battled Star Trek fanatics in laser tag. As the years have passed by, we have kids of our own who have kids of their own (well, at least some do). It’s one of my favorite times of life. Three years is a long time to wait, but it does make our reunions all the sweeter.

We celebrate the past with slideshows and stories. And we celebrate our common bonds too.  My mom’s parents, John and Jackie Porter, and, even more important, Jesus. It’s a beautiful connection. This family has a strong foundation which we have been building upon for years thanks to my grandparents. They raised mom and her two sisters and brother to love Jesus, value family, and make this world a better place. And I believe it’s true of our family. We are pastors, missionaries, doctors, teachers, businessmen, entrepreneurs, and loving moms and dads. And that’s just the second generation, my generation. The third is beginning to emerge into adulthood and making an impact as well.

My heart is heavy at this year’s gathering of Porter’s, Lewis’, Bradford’s, Ayer’s, and Wenger’s, though. It’s the first year without both Grandpa and Grandma. Grandpa passed away in 1997, but Grandma, or Gram as some of us call her, has been alive and strong since. At the ripe age of 95, however, she wasn’t able to make the trip this year. So the mixture of bitter and sweet emotions hang heavy on me, and I’m sure the rest of my family as well. But our bond in Christ carries us forward.

To my grandparents, mom, aunts, and uncle…thank you for all of the love, memories, laughter, and family!

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